Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

Fragile Forktails

Ischnura positaA mature female Ischnura posita. Ischnura positaAn immature female. Inch-long damsels, these. Eat more mosquitos, ladies!

Ischnura positaA mature male. The exclamation mark on the shoulder is tell-tale for this species, but it can fade with age.

Kingbird

Tyrannus tyrannusAn Eastern Kingbird in Green-Wood. Flying insect eaters, Kingbirds will bank and swerve like crazy while attempting to get at bugs making evasive maneuvers. Tyrannus tyrannusHere’s a big bee who didn’t escape.

Oyster Toadfish

Opsanus tauLast night as I watched the sun tuck behind the embankment of New Jersey, a fisherman beside me on the end of Pier 5 reeled this fish out of the dark water. He thought it was a Sea Robin, but I didn’t. It wasn’t that weird. Some research reveals it to be an Oyster Toadfish (Opsanus tau), a species with a high tolerance for hanging out in the bottom murk of polluted, junk-filled waters. Also known as oyster-cracker, ugly fish, mother-in-law fish, etc. It doesn’t have scales, but rather a slimy skin, hence the allusion to toads. The strong jaws are good for cracking oysters and other shellfish, but they will eat anything they can get. They are also known as a vocal species: males make “foghorn” like noises to attract females.

The bright yellow is the lure. Having maimed the 8″ long creature for sport, the fisherman extracted the hook and threw it back in.

Downy Heron

Butorides virescensOne of a trio of young Green Herons (Butorides virescens) on a snag in the Lullwater this week. This one was sitting: I’ve never seen a heron sit before.

It was a month ago that I saw this fledgling Green Heron in Green-wood. That bird looked a little older.

I wonder if this trio is a result of a late-nesting pair or a second brood? At least two pair were nesting in the Lullwater area in May, making for a nice long Brooklyn breeding season for this species.

Hanging the Night

Libellula pulchellaThis Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) was parked just off the path around 730pm, so I think it was roosting for the night. The black markings looked velvety in the light.Libellula pulchellaThis is a mature male. If you counted the white spots, too, he would be a twenty-spotted skimmer. To matters more confusing, this species used to be known as the Ten-spot… can you guess why?

Woodchuck

Marmota monaxWho doesn’t need some whistlepig every once and a while? Marmota monaxOld-ivory yellow teeth and all: a defining characteristic of the Rodentia are their pairs of continuously growing upper and lower incisors.Marmota monaxGnaw, gnaw!

One Froggy Morning

frog1Green-Wood’s Valley Water, filled with tadpoles earlier in the spring, is now full of young Bull Frogs (Rana catesbeiana). At least, that’s what I think they are. The crowd including this frogpole, not yet completely transformed into an adult.frog2The lily pads spluttered as these little ones hopped, skipped, and splashed away, sometimes hitting several pads before find the shelter of the water. Most skedaddled well in advance of the camera.frog3But I managed to digitize a few of the dozens upon dozens of them.frog4The telephoto compresses space, so I’m not sure how close these two were. The mature frog would be a mouthful.

“As Big As A Lear Jet”

Sphecius speciosusA couple of years ago, I saw Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) tunneling nests in two different tree pits in my neighborhood. One of those pits is again a nesting site. It’s notable on the block because it’s the only pit that has a good expanse of bare soil. This wasp was patrolling one of two tunnels here. I’ve read that several females may cooperate on digging one of the long tunnels.

The species name speciosus is from the Latin for showy or beautiful. True enough, but like many things of beauty, your standard human is afraid of them. The males, like all bees and wasps, don’t have stingers to sting. The females would rather save their sting for cicadas, meat for their young. So chill, and enjoy. My hand is inches from this one.

I’ve heard less than half a dozen cicadas in the last month. It’s only the beginning of August, though, and the Dog Days are just beginning.

Common Green Darner

Anax juniusA male Common Green Darner (Anax junius), one of our largest species of dragonfly. You should really click on the picture for a larger view, since there is some great detail here because this one perched quite a while below eye-level, allowing us all good looks as he rubbed his front legs over his eyes. Note how large those eyes are: dragonflies are like raptors, depending on vision to hunt. A migratory species, this three-inch long darner is usually the first dragonfly seen in the spring and one of the last in the fall (a female is pictured in the link).

Green June in July

Cotinus nitidaI saw this flying fairly low and slow, and waited a while to see if it would land. Waiting may be the essence of natural history observation. As it flew, my thought process was thus: too small for a cicada, too wide for a wasp. Once it landed, Japanese Beetle came to mind; but although similar, this is larger, and lacks the grooved elytra and the tufty bristles of that pest. This turned out to be the Green June Beetle (Cotinus nitida). Another foot soldier in the empire of beetles, the true earthlings (the rest of us just live here, wantonly slaughtering everything that moves). The Latin nitida means shiny, bright, handsome. Cotinus nitidaSeveral days later, I found another in a different borough.


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